Your interview is your first impression with an employer. It is where they see if you are as capable and competent as you seem on paper. The interview is when an employer makes a decision about your ability to fit in with their corporate environment and make a positive impact for their firm. To help you nail the interview and help set yourself up for an offer, we have compiled the following Q&A for your reference and use.
Why should you prepare?
Preparation can be the difference between a second round interview and a “thank you for your time.” Comfort, ease and confidence are more prominently pronounced when you are prepared. Interviewers will pick up on your confidence and be more likely to offer you an additional interview.
How should you prepare?
Know the company you are interviewing with, bottom line. Employers want to know you have done your research on their firm and are familiar with their business. They don’t expect you to know everything, but you should know something and have questions to follow-up with them at the conclusion of your interview.
Have examples ready to display your skillsets and experiences. You interviewer will more than likely ask you to delve deeper into some of the scenarios and accomplishments you listed on your resume. Make sure you have real life examples you can share with them about your abilities and experiences. Employers want to know how you work, but more importantly, how you will work with their team.
Develop a clear idea of your goals. Employers are interested in learning your career goals and aspirations. This question is usually framed by asking about your long range plans or professional goals. There is no need to worry if you goals do not include taking an executive position in a short period of time. Many people simply aspire to be productive and impactful in a firm, regardless of position stamina. If you are concerned about this question, we encourage you to discuss it with us. We are not only here to help present you to en employer, but to help you feel comfortable presenting yourself in an interview.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. An interview is like a sales pitch—you have to sell yourself. You can only do that, however, if you know what you are selling. Always try to emphasize your strengths and be prepared to answer questions about your weaknesses. Try to make your weaknesses work for you. Convey them in such a way that shows how you are overcoming them and plan to turn them into a strength in the near future.
Be yourself. Let your personality shine during your interview. Let them see who you are not only as a professional, but as a person. They want to know your personality will mesh with the other players on their team to improve the overall culture of the office and add continual value.
Can manner and appearance create an impression?
Absolutely. Everything from the shoes you wear to how you annunciate can help your interviewer formulate an opinion. Remember to dress professionally and look polished. Hold yourself with poise. Attitude and visual impressions are just as important as what you say during your interview.
What will the interviewer’s questions be like?
Most interviewers will question you in one of two ways. They will either follow a series of questions and answers to procure information from you about your work ethic, or they will ask you describe yourself in a less structured manner. As long as you have prepared appropriately you should not have difficulty with either style.
How should I respond?
Answer questions directly with little hesitation. Try to include examples using past experiences that relate directly answer their questions and can provide background information into your abilities. If you do not have prior work experience, draw examples from other experiences such as school or community involvement.
Be as specific as possible. Vague answers tend to tell the interviewer that you are not familiar with a given subject. If there is any doubt your interviewer did not fully understand your answer, ask if you should restate your answer or if they can restate the question for you. Be alert to how you are being received by your interviewer and adjust your approach if perceptions seem negative.
What types of questions should I prepare for?
A good interviewer will answer the tried-and-true questions about your past experiences and future goals as well as some personal questions. These questions are used primarily to determine your performance ability. During your answer to these types of questions, emphasize how you have successfully balanced your personal and professional life and looking forward to taking the next step in your career.
Be prepared to summarize your abilities and show why you are the ideal candidate for their position. Draw parallels between your skills, interests and career goals to create a compelling argument about why they should choose you. If you prepared properly, this question should be a breeze.
Also, if you are looking outside of your current company the interviewer will ask why you are leaving. The answer should stem from your professional goals. Present a clear answer to show you have thoroughly weighed your options and are genuinely interested in the opportunities available at their firm.
Before concluding the interview, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to interview the interviewer and learn more about the position and company. Your questions will allude to how thoroughly you researched the firm and your expectations of the position. Avoid asking questions about salary, benefits, paid time off or similar issues at your first meeting. Although they seem innocent, they actually signal to the interviewer that you are more concerned with out-of work activities than in-office responsibilities.
Is there a proper way to end an interview?
Yes. Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. An expression of gratitude for being given the opportunity to meet with a potential employer is always appreciated. You can ask how the remainder of the interview process will go and how soon they are expecting to fill the position. This will give you a timeline as when to expect a call back for a second interview, if not stated during your meeting.
If you want to stand out and remain in the employer’s mind as the key candidate, consider sending a thank you note. This sincere gesture will allow you to thank the interviewer and reaffirm your interest.